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Posted: Saturday, October 26th 2013 at 2:28am

North Hall bounces back for hardfought 35-21 win (Video)

By Morgan Lee Editor
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North Hall's Zac Little looks to break a tackle from West Hall's Tyquan Statham in the Trojans' win on Friday in Gainesville.
GAINESVILLE -- North Hall football talked all week of redemption and passion.

The Trojans showed plenty of both on Friday, fending off a determined West Hall 35-21 at The Brickyard in Gainesville.

The victory helped erase memories of last week’s setback to White County and kept the Trojans in the thick of the Region 7-AAA title race.

“We didn’t play perfect tonight, but we played hard from start to finish, and we made the big plays when we had to have them,” North Hall coach Bob Christmas said. “West Hall is a good team, and we knew it was going to be tough, but we did what we had to do.”

Plenty of those big plays came from Trojans quarterback Andrew Smith, who rushed for 129 yards and three scores, including a 36-yard scamper with 1:11 to seal the win.

“Offensively we kept hitting them in the mouth in that second half,” Smith said. “We did not want to let up and make a mistake.”

West Hall made sure that the eighth-ranked Trojans (6-1, 4-1 Region 7-AAA) could not pull away, answering North Hall touchdowns with scores of their own in the second half -- including a 39-yard pass from Zach English to Hunter Atkinson to pull within 28-21 with 4:47 remaining.

The Spartans (5-3, 3-2) would not get the chance to make it a photo finish, however.

Taking the ball back, North Hall marched 80 yards to put the contest out of reach, including Smith’s breakaway touchdown run, as the quarterback broke the line of scrimmage untouched before sprinting down the right sideline.

“I didn’t expect that much room,” Smith said. “They had been keying on me all game, and I think the guy that had been on me just ran past me and couldn’t get an angle. It was a great call by our coaches.”

Smith’s night highlighted a 366-yard rushing performance for the Trojans, as Zac Little also carried 16 times for 83 yards, while Nolan Tucker added 61 yards and a score and Destin Bennett finished with 46 yards and a touchdown. Smith also completed two passes for 45 yards.

West Hall, meanwhile, put up 225 yards rushing of its own, as seven backs split duties – English leading the way with 66 yards on 14 carries. Tyquan Statham also added 61 yards on nine carries -- while Hunter Atkinson hauled in four passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns.

"They present some mismatches out there, especially the big tight end," Christmas said of Atkinson. "We did what we could to try and slow him down, but he's got great hands, runs great routes, and he's just so big. But the defense played a great game tonight."

The way things started it looked like a race to 50, as North Hall and West Hall traded first quarter scores.

The Trojans opened the scoring on a four-yard run from Bennett with 6:24 left in the first quarter.

The Spartans fired right back, however, as Antonio Pittman cut back into the end zone from eight yards to notch the score at 7-7 with 4:09 left in the quarter.

The score held for exactly 1:02.

Piecing together another impressive drive on the ground, North Hall’s Tucker romped into the end zone from five yards to regain a 14-7 advantage. But instead of touching off a scoring fest, the three touchdowns held until halftime, as West Hall missed on a 32-yard field goal and the Trojans fumbled away on a promising drive just before the interval.

North Hall also fumbled on its opening possession of the second half -- but Andrew Smith pounced on the loose ball just four plays before sprinting two yards for a 21-7 lead with 6:26 left in the third quarter.

Again West Hall answered, this time going to the air, as English tossed up an 11-yard scoring strike to Atkinson in the left corner of the end zone, hauling the Spartans within 21-14 with 1:32 left in the quarter.

North Hall was not about to let the Spartans make things hairy, however, and Smith staked the Trojans back to a two touchdown advantage at the start of the fourth quarter. West Hall continued to push, but, by then, the Trojans had the finish line in sight and would not be deterred from keeping their hopes of defending the 7-AAA title intact.

And while North Hall is currently tied for second, the Trojans know that, by winning out, they will have an opportunity to retain their crown.

"We still control our own destiny," Smith said. "We've just got to keep winning and put ourselves in a great position."

The Trojans will travel to take on Banks County next week.

West Hall, meanwhile, will play host to White County in another key Region 7-AAA game. The Spartans are still very much in the playoff picture in 7-AAA and can solidify that position next week -- and in their regular season finale at Dawson County.

West Hall......7....0....7.....7 -- 21
North Hall...14....0....7...14 -- 35

First Quarter
NHHS -- Bennett 4 run (Dennis kick) 6:24, 7-0
WHHS -- Pittman 8 run (Hodgson kick) 4:09, 7-7
NHHS -- Tucker 5 run (Dennis kick) 3:07, 14-7

Third Quarter
NHHS -- Smith 2 run (Dennis kick) 6:26, 21-7
WHHS -- Atkinson 11 pass from English (Hodgson kick) 1:32, 21-14

Fourth Quarter
NHHS -- Smith 10 run (Dennis kick) 9:22, 28-14
WHHS -- Atkinson 39 pass from English (Hodgson kick) 4:47, 28-21
NHHS -- Smith 36 run (Dennis kick) 1:11, 35-21
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Gainesville, GA 30501
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